By Victor Skinner
MUSKEGON – Muskegon’s Harbor Cinema is re-opening, less than three months after owner Dan Taylor-Tubergen opted to shut down the historic lakeside theatre.
“We closed in May, mainly because in the last three years we haven’t been able to get any first run movies,” Taylor told Muskegon’s 100.9FM. “Our lease is up in August, and June and July are usually really slow for us.
“Literally two weeks later, a couple of the major studios announced they won’t be honoring clearance anymore,” he said.
Clearances prevent smaller cinemas from running the same new movies as larger theaters, an issue that has prevented Harbor Cinema from playing new flicks and limited shows to less popular foreign and independent films.
Essentially, clearances give larger theaters a monopoly on first run movies.
The Harbor Cinema, located at 1937 Lakeshore Drive, developed a following of locals coming in to view foreign and independent films since Taylor-Tubergen took over ownership in 2013, but he said the limited draw was not enough to sustain operations.
A decision by 21st Century Fox to end the clearances convinced Taylor-Tubergen to reinvest in the cinema, which now has a much better chance at success when it reopens July 21.
“We are upgrading both screens to digital, so we’ll give it a shot for a while and see how it goes,” he said. “We’ll still so some foreign and independent films.”
“We’re hoping that within the next few months other studios will get rid of this clearance issue as well, and then we’ll do … primarily first run movies,” Taylor-Tubergen said.
The cinema will re-open with Ice Age: Collision Course, the fifth chapter in the animated Ice Age franchise about a rag-tag group of prehistoric animals on an epic adventure to save earth from a massive meteor.
The re-opening was also set to feature the independent film Swiss Army Man, but the film was rescheduled after Paramount Pictures followed 21st Century Fox’s lead and canceled clearances.
“We just got the word that Harbor has been given the new Star Trek film, Star Trek: Beyond, starting next week with Ice Age: Collision Course! This is huge news as Paramount has jumped onboard with Harbor Cinema!” the cinema posted to its Facebook page.
“Showtimes will be updated soon on the website. Unfortunately this does mean that both Swiss Army Man and Bad Moms will be bumped back a week or two. But we promise they are still coming! Please visit our website www.harborshowtimes.com for showtimes and please share this huge news! First runs are finally happening!”
The cinema is hosting an online promotion through its Facebook page for free movie tickets for those who help get the word out. Movie-goers can also sign up for Harbor Cinema’s newsletter through its website.